Cooge was 15 when he went to work making bricks so as to help feed his family.
He had never been out of the state of Kentucky until he got drafted at age 32 by the US Army in 1943.
He didn’t get drafted earlier in the war because his bricks were needed to make the steel to make the tanks for the war effort. Once the tanks were made the Army now needed bodies to invade France the next year.
“Hey Cooge, sorry about your luck. You are hereby ordered for induction…”
Assigned to the 29th American Infantry Division, trained in Maryland, shipped to Scotland, and then to England’s south coast, Cooge was finally put on a ship with thousands of other draftees…all of them awaiting Eisenhower’s have-a-blast-in-Normandy orders.
Today, 79 years ago, June 6, 1944, 6:30 am the 29th assaulted Omaha Beach…Easy Green, Dog Red, Dog White, and Dog Green sections. The first wave got annihilated.
Cooge didn’t land on Omaha until noon. They were still fighting.
Somehow Cooge survived that Omaha day and within days joined the Allied breakout to St. Lo.
He didn’t make it to St. Lo. Wounded, he spent the next nine months in various hospitals before returning to Kentucky to make more bricks.
Cooge was my father. Cooge was his nickname. He survived WWII and lived another 28 years. He never talked about those Army years. Many didn’t. Many couldn’t.
His discharge papers listed him at 5’8″ weighing 120 lbs. What an imposing figure he must have been to those fortified Germans.
Dad did say he played a lot of poker in the Army. Pretty good at it too. Early in my childhood Mom got mad when Dad stayed out all night playing poker.
She always forgave him though because in the morning he threw $500 in the back door before sneaking in.
“The Normandy landings were the largest seaborne invasion in history, with nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers participating. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on D-Day, with 875,000 men disembarking by the end of June. Allied casualties on the first day were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead.”
Today you don’t have to remember how one 5’8″ brickmaker from Kentucky was a part of all that. That’s the job of my brother and I.
But, it would be cool if you paused for a bit today and remembered what happened today in our history.